Glen Scotia Double Cask

OK let me preface this by saying that I have a viscerally negative reaction to seeing Glen Scotia single malt on a menu or in a tasting. I have disliked every Glen Scotia that I have tried, and have begun to associate the otherwise-innocent distillery with the entire downfall of Campbeltown whisky. Luckily this blog forces me to have an open mind. There are more expressions to review, so I continue tasting despite my prejudices and biases. Some readers have suggested that I temper my disdain for Glen Scotia by trying Double Cask, a partially-sherried finished NAS malt in the same vein as The Balvenie DoubleWood 12, but without the age statement. I probably would have forgotten entirely about this suggestion, but I fortuitously happened upon a sample in my haul of Master of Malt ‘drinks by the dram’ minis from last year. Apparently Past Me figured that I needed to review it.

Glen Scotia, one of the two remaining Campbeltown distilleries, is known for a house character that involves mild peat (like the lesser-peated Springbanks), an oily mouthfeel, and some variant of lemon peel notes. It’s hard to have a conversation about Glen Scotia without someone redirecting the topic to Springbank, which everyone just sort of agrees is better in every way. See? I just did it. I bet Glen Scotia people hate that.

Double Cask is a NAS vatting of Glen Scotia single malt aged in first-fill ex-bourbon casks and is finished for “up to a year” in Pedro Ximénez (PX) sherry casks. Let me stop a moment to ask… why on earth do marketers use phrases like “up to a year”? I mean… zero seconds is included under the umbrella of “up to a year”. Gah.

Nose: Tropical fruits up the wazoo. (What the heck is a wazoo? Oh.) Kiwi, fresh green banana, white tea, raspberries, white peach, and a delicate floral note like honeysuckle or jasmine. A rest in the glass makes this even better, with an undercurrent of caramel syrup and peanut butter to contrast the fruits.

Palate: Medium body, not quite syrupy. Oaky up front, with lots of vanilla and a hearty dose of cinnamon. A strident tongue burn (surprising for 46%) is accompanied by a few dried fruits (apricot, date), a mouth-drying dollop of tannins, and a peanut buttery maltiness that reminds me of some porters.

Finish: Short. An herbal quality, something in between black tea and herb cough drops, dominates the finish. There is no bitterness, but also not much evolution. Subsequent sips have more oak and sugar in them, which brings the finish back into balance.

With Water: A few drops of water add a little more of that caramel (and some vanilla) to the aroma. The flavor seems a little brighter, with more nuttiness, as does the finish. Try both without and then with a little water.

Overall: Holy frijoles, this is miles better than the (older) 15 year-old expression, which I almost-but-don’t-quite hate. The aroma is heavenly, the liquid on the tongue is well-balanced and emphatic, and the finish is complex. It’s bottled at the appropriate 46% ABV, as well. Too bad there’s no age statement.

Turns out that Glen Scotia really just needed some sherry to shine. (Update: or some rum!)

At $45, this is up there with the likes of The Balvenie DoubleWood 12 and GlenDronach 12 in my personal estimation, and warrants a rare “Must Have” rating.

ScotchNoob™ Mark:

About The Distillery

Glen Scotia is one of the few (Springbank, Glengyle) remaining Campbeltown distilleries in the Mull of Kintyre. Like Springbank, it uses the town water supply of Crosshill Loch, and also has a private well from a borehole drilled deep into the rock beneath the town. It only uses two stills, and is currently running at a fraction of its potential capacity in the hands of a tiny staff of three employees. Distilling is an ancient tradition, and even the modern industrialized distilleries have hundreds of years of history. It’s no surpise, then, that some distillery buildings are thought to be haunted. Glen Scotia, in particular, is famously haunted by the ghost of one former owner who drowned himself in Crosshill Loch, and currently walks the halls of the aged distillery buildings. ‘Spirit’, indeed.

Glen Scotia Double Cask
46% ABV
ScotchNoob™ Mark:
Price Range: $45 - $50
Acquired: (30ml sample bottle purchased at Master of Malt)

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  • There are three distilleries in Campbeltown: Springbank, Glen Scotia, and Glengyle. I realize Glengyle is also owned by J & A Mitchell & Co. but it IS a separate distillery. I may have to check out this Double Cask. I have a sample of Glen Scotia 18 that I’ll be reviewing soon. I know you haven’t been a fan of theirs, but my palate seems to be quite different from yours so maybe I’ll enjoy it.

  • I didn’t try Glen Scotia DC, so I can’t comment on it. I would like to point out a frequently made mistake, regarding american oak barrels. If whisky is matured in american oak barrels, that does not mean, it’s matured exlusively in ex-bourbon barrels. Sherry is matured in american oak barrels also. So, if Glen Scotia is stating, that GS 15 is matured exlusively in american oak barrels, that does not mean, there were no sherry barrels included in maturation. I beleive there were some sherry barrels involved.
    BTW I like an interview and I will try this GS.

  • I just got back to the US from Scotland. Glen Scotia DC was recommended to me by a whisky tutor and it is my favorite out of all the whiskies I tried during my trip. Unfortunately I haven’t been able to find it here and I haven’t been able to find anyone who can ship it to me. On your recommendation I bought Balvenie 12 instead but it has a more alcoholic taste to me.

  • Funny! Ralfy was ranting and raving over the 15 year, meanwhile, this one seems to get little love, and at an affordable price!

  • I’m about a month into exploring Scotch, having been into Bourbon for a while. I frantically search this site on my phone in the isle of my local store for a review when I see a bottle on the shelf I want to try but don’t know much about, and dang it you really came through for me this time with the “Must Have” rating.

    Cheers for this great pour.